I can’t tell you the number of emails I receive that start out: “Hey Beth.”  “Hey” may be an acceptable greeting in person, but in print, it comes off a bit too informal for my taste.

But “hey” was put in perspective when I was copied on an email that was sent by a current member of an organization to its retired president. It began: “Dear a happy bunch of [First Name Last Name],” as it sought to ask for time and contributions from this person. Seriously? The sender is director-level and that’s how they chose to address a legend? Actually, I can’t think of any situation in which that wording is appropriate. I hate to think of how they communicate with their staff.

Text messaging, social media, emojis and inter-office channels like Slack have certainly loosened the formality around communication, but common sense and courtesy should still prevail. Leave the “hey’s” for when you run into a buddy on the street and keep the “happy bunch” lingo for when you’re describing bananas. How you begin your message truly does have an impact on how you are perceived.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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